Vito Lopez: Bought By Bruce Ratner?
I have written extensively about the lies and corruption surrounding Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. From Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn's Clown and whiny wannabe mayor of NYC, to Bloomberg and Pataki promising more and more land (at taxpayer expense) to Ratner in backroom deals, Ratner is surrounded by corruption.
One of the main problems has been the corruption that surrounds Albany like a vortex of slime, with the old triumvirate of Pataki, Bruno and Silver at the center of it. Another part of the Albany vortex of corruption is Vito Lopez, Assemblyman from Brooklyn and considered one of the most corrupt politicians outside of prison.
Vito Lopez gets most of his campaign contributions from developers and, interestingly enough, chiropractors. Not sure why he's so popular among chiropractors, but it is easy to see why he is so beloved by developers. Now it becomes clear that Lopez has been bought by Bruce Ratner's family.
Bruce Ratner himself doesn't funnel money to candidates so much. Usually it is other family members who buy the politicians and Bruce who reaps he benefits. This is the case with Vito Lopez. In September 2006, the Ratner family maxed out donations to Vito Lopez, someone who had been largely quiet on Ratner's Atlantic Yards project before that.
From Atlantic Yards Report:
Greenwich Village resident Michael Ratner...brother of Forest City Ratner (FCR) CEO Bruce Ratner, has given campaign contributions to several candidates from Brooklyn and beyond apparently favored by the developer. So has his wife, Karen Ranucci...
On 9/8/06, Ratner and Ranucci each gave $3100 (the contribution limit) to the campaign of Brooklyn Democratic Chair Vito Lopez, who has a lock on his Assembly seat. Lopez had no primary and token opposition in the general election.
But Lopez can have influence with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Forest City Ratner certainly wants Silver to greenlight Atlantic Yards when it reaches the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB), where Silver has one of three votes. (Ratner and Ranucci had previously contributed the maximum to Silver, as well.)
Lopez, interestingly, was not on the list of public officials supporting AY announced at the 8/23/06 press event. Still, he has ties to several project supporters.
That was around the time of election 2006. Before that, Silver had already been a major crony of the Ratner clan. But Vito had been strangely silent given his close ties to developers. Of course, soon AFTER the Ratners paid for their Lopez, Lopez suddenly offered Bruce Ratner a deal so sweet even Michael Bloomberg balked. From Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn: (quoting the Post)
The provision, quietly inserted by Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn), would provide Ratner with an extra $300 million in property-tax benefits.
Another provision eliminates - for Ratner only - the requirement that at least 20 percent of the housing units in each building in a complex be affordable.
Critics say it opens the door to Ratner "segregating" all of the project's 2,500 affordable-housing units into several buildings.
"More sinister, [Ratner] can build the market-rate housing first and wait a decade to do the affordable housing or, even worse, come back after the market-rate housing is done and then say, 'We can't afford to do the affordable housing,' " an official said...
So...let's review. Vito Lopez is largely silent on Atlantic Yards. Then Ratner's family max out their donations to Lopez. Then Lopez steamrolls the Assembly to offer Bruce Ratner a deal worth $300 million.
Gee...Vito Lopez sounds more and more like a Republican every day. Or, at least, part of the Shelly Silver/Joe Bruno vortex of corruption.